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Taliban chief 'handover' as Afghan flag raised

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 25 February 2010

Pakistan has reportedly agreed to hand over a captured Taliban chief, while a further two British troops have died in Afghanistan in the last 24 hours.

The Afghan flag is raised during an official ceremony in Marjah on February 25, 2010. (Credit: Getty)

Afghanistan's presidential office said Pakistan had agreed to hand over captured Taliban number two, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and other rebels.

Baradar is said to be a key deputy to the Taliban's spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and associate of Osama Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

If his identity is confirmed, he is the most senior insurgent leader to be arrested since the US led offensive on Afghanistan began in 2001.

Meanwhile, Nato and Afghan forces are pushing on with Operation Moshtarak, the largest military operation in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.

In a joint briefing earlier, Brigadier General Eric Tremblay, Nato military spokesperson: said: "We will need a few more days to clear Marjah and improve the security situation by separating the insurgents from the population."

General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesperson confirmed the number of dead in fighting so far.

He said: "In total during this operation so far three Afghan National Army soldiers have been martyred and five other soldiers wounded.

"One hundred enemy fighters have been killed and 50 captured by our forces."

Afghan army officers joined provincial officials at a flag-raising ceremony was held. Hundreds of locals also looked on as the country's black, red and green flag was raised.

(Operation Moshtarak: US Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Paxton stands next to a map of Marjah - Getty Images)

There have been two more troop deaths in Afghanistan in the last 24 hours.

A soldier, from A Company, 4th Battalion The Rifles, part of the 3 Rifles Battle Group, died near Sangin, in Helmand Province. The MoD said he died as a result of "small arms fire".

Earlier, an an airman taking part in a vehicle-mounted patrol in Afghanistan was killed following an explosion.

From 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, he was part of the Kandahar Airfield Defence Force, and died as a result of his injuries. Both families have been told.

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